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Toyota engineers on cross-country tour reach W.Va.

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst Toyota principal engineers walk by their cars parked at the Toyota plant in Buffalo on Tuesday. The engineers are on day 37 of a 110-day cross-country expedition to learn about the roads their cars will be driven on.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst
Toyota principal engineers walk by their cars parked at the Toyota plant in Buffalo on Tuesday. The engineers are on day 37 of a 110-day cross-country expedition to learn about the roads their cars will be driven on.

BUFFALO, W.Va. — When Nick Middleton was hired as a principal engineer for a Toyota plant in Michigan, he expected to sit in an office or mull around a workroom at the Toyota Technical Center all day.

Instead, he found himself driving across the country with a team of more than 140 Toyota employees — and getting paid to do it.

He had only one word to describe his trip so far: “Amazing.”

A caravan of nine Toyota vehicles pulled into Buffalo on Tuesday. Their mission? Drive a Toyota vehicle on every type of road in North America to and try to figure out how they can make improvements upon the design.

Toyota is calling the cross-country road trip the Ever-Better Expedition, but that’s only part of the crusade. Engineers from Michigan and Japan will travel around the world and drive on every continent. The North American part of the tour kicked off on June 24 in Plano, Texas.

This leg of the worldwide tour is estimated to take 110 days and will span more than 16,000 miles. That’s too long for one group of engineers to stay away from work, so instead, engineers spend two weeks on the road.

Even though Tuesday was only Middleton’s second day on his two-week long shift, he’s already brimming with excitement about returning to work…

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